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THE PENN HILLS YMCA, shown here, will close, Aug. 31. (Photo by Rob Taylor Jr.)

Sheila Greene has loved her Penn Hills YMCA for 15 years. It’s been the source of a good workout after a hard day’s work, along with the place her godchildren go for fun activities.

But come Aug. 31, the Penn Hills YMCA will be no more.

“I am totally shocked,” Greene told the New Pittsburgh Courier, after learning from YMCA officials that the Penn Hills, Wilmerding and Coraopolis locations would be closing for good as part of the Y’s reorganization plan. “It’s so lively up here with the athletics and afterschool programming. I’m so disappointed that, out of all of them, they would close this one.”

For the YMCA, the good news is they’ve asked to be released from bankruptcy protection months ahead of schedule. But it’s unfortunate for people like Greene, a Penn Hills resident, that more locations have to close by the end of the summer to accomplish this.

“Today is a bittersweet day because it means we are able to move forward now that our formal reorganization is complete,” said President Kevin Bolding at a July 10 press conference at its Homewood-Brushton Center. “However, it also means we have had to make very difficult decisions that impact communities we care deeply about.”

When the organization filed for protection from creditors in May, it announced it would save about $1 million a year by closing its Downtown center on Fifth Avenue. It cited debts of up to $60 million and assets of $75 million. The newly announced closures would, Bolding said, save another $1 million annually—but it will also affect more than 200 part-time and 23 full-time employees, and more than 3,000 members.

Greene said she spoke with some YMCA officials after using the facility, July 10. “I understood when they said Homewood was staying open because the community needs it, but we need it, too. What are the kids going to do?”

Despite the pending closures, Bolding said summer programs and camps at all three locations would continue through Aug. 31.

“There is no doubt this has been the most challenging time in the YMCA’s history for our employees, their families, our members and the community,” he said. “As we worked through the plans for our reorganization, we knew we had more difficult days ahead, but it is our belief that these changes are necessary for us to remain a vital service provider in greater Pittsburgh, especially for those in underserved communities.”

“It’s just heartbreaking to know that this place is closing,” Greene said. “It’s part of the community.”

 

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